Social media has had made many impacts on society. Any website that allows social interaction is considered a social media site (Schurgin O’Keeffe, Clarke-Pearson). Due to the new technology taking over, social media has been easier than ever to get a hold of by the applications that have been made for portable devices. Through these devices and applications, being socially connected has made it easier to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, it all hasn’t been positive communications. There are many negative effects of social media, the biggest being addiction and self esteem.
The definition of an addiction according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something (addiction). While social media addiction is not clinically diagnosed at this point, the behavior displayed and language of the students use suggests that society is not that far from becoming physically dependant on mobile devices (Westfall). With the new technologies right at the fingertips of society and easy access to check the newsfeed of the word, addiction to social media is on the rise.
There are many factors that classify someone as an addict in different parts of the world. According to psychology professor and author Larry Rosen, “Social media addicts spend most of their waking moments checking for updates, chatting in instant messaging rooms, posting updates and checking their friend’s latest postings. Even when they delete their accounts, they usually are driven to make new accounts within twenty-four hours” (Gabriel). Some cases of addiction to social media are not as severe as others. In some extreme cases there are symptoms that can be observed. These symptoms include: spending at least four hours per day using social media, canceling more and more activities with family, friends or coworkers, bringing cell phones or other internet capable devices into the bathroom, and feeling anxious when you cannot get onto the internet. Once the individual has gotten involved in networking sites, things can escalate quickly. One reason these sites are so addictive is that there is a nonstop stream of messages, photos, updates and information coming from those in the network. If you have ten friends, it should not be a problem keeping up with them. If an individual’s network is one hundred friends or more, the individual might end up online for hours every day, trying to check all of the updates. Trading messages back and forth with other members, the individual might find himself or herself even more caught up in the exchange, just as it would be in a normal conversation.
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Social networking sites are meant to be casual, relaxed ways to connect with others. If you start losing sleep or are unable to concentrate because you’re always thinking about going online to check your friends’ statuses, then that is a sign of trouble. Social media has become an addiction to people because it is a form, or a way, to escape reality. It is also a way that someone can create their own cyber reality (Cosper). According to an associate professor in a program of science, technology, and society, Natasha Schull states, “Online games and social networking sites use psychological principles to keep you hooked” . Recent study shows that online dependency is not so different from a physical addiction. “MRI scans of patients checking their social media feed and those using cocaine look exactly the same,” says Schull. Most addictions begin as a harmless satisfaction of needs and desires; checking a few media sites stimulates those pleasure centers in the brain (Jensen). Another reason these sites are so addictive is that they provide outlets for when you are feeling down. People post fewer negative than positive updates on networking sites. They might mention trips they have taken or new cars, but they will rarely mention when they get poor grades or if they gained twenty pounds. If the individual’s own “real” life is not going so great, they can always go online and pretend it to be better. This in most cases, is how depression from social media usage is started. It is easy for someone to lose himself or herself in what experts say, “happyland” and forget about the hurdles in everyday life (Bocco). With new studies there has been known to be at least ten different types of social media addiction. A few of these types of addiction are: “The Alert-Lover”, “The Social Guru”, “ The Verb Creator”, “The Blog Referencer”, “The Multi-Mayor”, and “The Freak Out-er” (Laird). Just like any other addiction, social media addiction is a disease. Social media addiction can become a destructive compulsive habit which as with any addiction can lead to broken relationships, job loss, and even financial issues. Individuals addicted to social media often feel anxiety or even may feel physically ill if not able to connect to the internet or their favorite social media sites. Evidence suggests that that the typical addict is usually a teenager, usually male, and has no social life outside of their computer and or mobile devices.
Though this is not truefor all. This disease has been known to affect millions of people all over the world. The most important being the “constant checker” and the “vowel hater” (Laird). In today’s world, checking social media on a regular basis can be easier than ever before. For some, this great access is not all that great. Those people are known as the “ constant checkers”. They feel the need to check their handheld devices on a regular basis to feel up-to-date on the newest news that they may have missed, in what they may feel, has been a very long time. A study done by the University of California suggests that on average, study subjects check their mobile devices thirty-five times out of habit. It was also shown that nearly eighty- eight percent of teenagers and young adults check their news feed before even getting out of their bed in the morning. Through this study those subjects then realized that they were losing the relationships that they have had with the people closest to them because they were being annoying. Some, but not all, of those studied admitted to having a physical attachment to their mobile devices and having withdrawls when taken away. Lisa Merlo, a psychologist at the University of Florida, says, “If you hear ‘put the phone away’ more than once a day, you probably have a problem” (Cohen). Another type of social media addiction is being a “vowel hater”. These people are known to take out every vowel possible in order to save time and space in either a text message or posting onto any form of social media site. This addiction has been known to alter all parts of the individual’s specific speech. It alters their speech in regular conversation and those electronically. From it leaking into the regular everyday conversation it can cause confusion to those around. Some may not know all the up to date slang terms that are used in instant messaging and social media. The same is for electronic messaging. This could be email or instant messaging on a media site. The most common type of people that this kind of addiction has been found is the younger generation. This is the age group of those from the age thirty to seventeen. It has been found that the younger the individual the more vowels are taken out of each word in each sentence. Some of the most noticeable symptoms of being a ”vowel hater” is when posting on a social media site, such as Twitter, they are known for dropping vowels just to reach the one hundred forty character limit (Hivesocial). Like any other disease there are a variety of treatment options. These treatment option vary from AA type meetings to meetings that can be held via webcam, other instant messaging alternatives or sometimes even a therapist. Unlike drug or alcohol addiction there will be no physical side effects from lowering your usage and stopping completely. The individual will be battling behaviors that have built up over time so it will be difficult to cut back on social media time. However, it is extremely doable. One of the first steps in addiction treatment is the individual must admit to himself or herself that there is a problem.
Once the problem is recognized it is best that the subject take note on which kind of social media or technology that are addicted to. This may be hard for the individual for they in most cases, do not realize that they are checking their mobile devices and social media sites. Therapy can give the individual a tremendous boost in controlling internet use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy provides step-by-step ways to stop compulsive internet behaviors and change the individual’s perceptions regarding internet, mobile phone, and computer use. Therapy can also help you learn healthier ways of coping with uncomfortable emotions, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Joining a support group is also another great way to help the addict make them feel like they are not alone. Ironically, some of these support groups are online which may not be too supportive to those who have a heavy addiction. Which in some cases should be monitored carefully (Sherwood). Research from the University of Buffalo indicates that women who base their self worth on their appearance are likely to post more pictures of themselves online for validation and to have larger social media networks (Henderson). Positive comments on social media can and do boost self esteem. Some people get a boost of healthy self esteem and get ego driven self love based on how many “Likes” they get on a social media site. Everyone wants to feel worthy of love and belonging. In some ways, the “Likes” we get on social media sites satisfies this need in almost a distorted way. Perhaps we are looking for love, or ”Likes” in all the wrong places. According to lead author Elliot Panek, “Among young college students, we found that those who scored higher in certain types of self worth posted more often on Twitter. But among middle- aged adults from the general population, those that had more self love posted more frequent status updates on Facebook” (Bergland). Facebook serves self loved adults as a mirror. As for a middle- aged adult, these findings of the difference between Facebook and Twitter may be influenced by a generation technology gap. Panek says of Facebook, “It is about creating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image.” Many middle-aged adults have already formed their social selves. They use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circle. For some self loved college students, the social media is a tool for them in helping them reach there wanted social standings (Bergland). Along with being addicted and having a low self esteem there is yet another negative effect of social media, cyberbullying.
Access to electronic devices like smartphones that capture photos, videos and have the ability to upload to video sites or be sent through a mass messages within seconds mean the bullying never ends. Reports of teens recording fights, sexual assaults and more have been in the news with several being caught after sharing it on their Facebook pages. There are even sites dedicated to publishing and promoting teen fight videos which does not warrant a link. Teens already dealing with the pressures of fitting in now have to fear being targeted by bullies, who can easily smear their reputation with a few clicks of the mouse. The most dangerous part is this content lives on well after the damage is done, a daily reminder to the victim. Most commonly cyberbullying is found on chat sites and social media that has had a huge boom within ten years or less such as Facebook. MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. It is easier for the bullier to pick on their victim because they are not talking to them directly. In fact, in almost all cases it is not face to face but rather, typed, hateful words. Saying hurtful words is not the only form of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can also be done through impersonation. Impersonation means that the person does not even have to know the individual that is bullying them. These types of online harassments should not be taken lightly. Many teens and even professionals have been known to quit what they love or even in severe cases, have committed suicide. On average, those that are bullied tend to all have the same or nearly the same symptoms. Those symptoms include: skipping school, experience in-person bullying, be unwilling to attend school, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem, have more health problems, and the used of alcohol and drugs. Cyberbullying is different from any other kind of bullying because it can reach the individual at any time of the day, any time of the week (Social Media Makes Cyberbullying More Dangerous). Granted, not all cyberbullying is no all done on Facebook, but since the social networking site is so popular among tweens and teenagers everywhere, it is a regular source of problems. Nearly half of all teenagers in the United States have experienced some online bullying, according to statistics from the National Crime Prevention Council. Twenty percent of middle school students said they have seriously thought about suicide due to online bullying, according to a recent survey conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center (Levine). It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that victims of cyberbullying have lower self-esteem than those who have not experienced it. On the other hand, research has also surprisingly shown that the actual cyberbullying offenders have lower self-esteem than their peers. It would seem that when it comes to bullying, everyone loses. Since low self-esteem has been linked in many studies to poor grades in school, health issues, excessive absences, and criminal behavior, it would be in everyone’s best interest to take steps to shut bullying down early on.
Addiction and self esteem are some of the many negative effects of social media. In review, addiction not only hurts the individual but also how the individual acts and may participate in events. Not only does it hurt them but it also hurts the relationships that they are in. This includes family, friends and co-workers. Addiction also can play a role in how they treat people on a day to day basis. From being addicted to social media the individual can start to lose their sense of how to communicate with others face to face. Luckily, with this understudied addiction there are treatment options that are beginning to take place for those that would like to take a stand on their addiction. Self esteem is also a negative factor in social media today. Those individuals that have a higher and possibly lower self esteem tend to post more online than those that do not. This is dependant on how much self worth an individual may have for him or her self. Some people keep posting online just help themselves boost their self esteem because they may have a hardship outside of the “cyberworld.” In that case, for some the only way to boost their self esteem is to cyber bully others. Impersonation is one of the more common types of cyberbullying because the individual does not have to know the victim on a personal level or even at all. Addiction and self esteem are only a few of the numerous negative effects of social media.
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